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Entries Tagged as 'diy'

August 30, 2013

beauty secrets | coconut oil for beginners

My foray into natural beauty oils started with the beloved jojoba oil.

While I recommend it to anyone who is curious about oil cleansing, it’s now joined by my other favorite multipurpose oil, coconut oil, in my recommendations for a beautiful, multipurpose oil.

If you’re new to the natural beauty space, besides reading this blog (thanks!) and the loads of other great ones out there (see my blogroll to the right), another great resource specifically for coconut oil is “Coconut Oil for Beginners.”

(Pretty straightforward name, huh?)

coconut oil for beginners

{I received a review copy of “Coconut Oil for Beginners” and read it front to back in no time! It’s a great guide to this miracle oil and includes lovely DIY hair and beauty recipes as well as foodie recipes — count me in! It retails for $9.99 paperback and $2.51 for your Kindle. Curious about my favorite coconut oil? It’s from Tropical Traditions. (Smaller size here)}

While I wouldn’t consider myself a beginner in this space (been a green beauty lover since 2007), I still enjoyed reading “Coconut Oil for Beginners” because it’s written in an easy-to-digest way.

Below, I’ll give you a taste of what’s inside of this staple book. If you love what you read, scoop it up — it’s a crazy for $2.51 for your Kindle or $9.99 paperback!

(And hey, if you subscribe to my yet-to-be-launched monthly e-newsletter, you may get another bite out of this book … I’ve got some killer coconut oil recipes to share! See the right rail of the blog for the subscribe box.)

A Shopper’s Guide to Coconut Oil

In the land of coconuts, all oil is not made the same. Just as with other nut and vegetable oils, the quality of the product depends on the extraction process and whether or not the oil is refined.

As with all produce, pesticides and other chemicals are a serious consideration that lends even more confusion to the buying process. There are several different forms of coconut oil adorning your grocer’s shelf just waiting to be chosen, but how to choose?

Coconut Oil Buying Tip

When the term organic is applied to coconut oil, it only guarantees that the coconut palm or the oil itself wasn’t treated with any fertilizers, pesticides, or solvents that aren’t organic as defined by that country’s certifying organization. It doesn’t mean that the oil hasn’t been refined or hydrogenated.

Refined Versus Unrefined Coconut Oil

Let’s start with the two broadest categories, refined and unrefined, and then break it down further from there. There’s not only a difference in the processing of refined and unrefined oil, but also a significant difference in taste.

Unrefined Coconut Oil

This type of oil is exactly what the name implies: It’s left in the natural state after it’s pressed. You may recognize this type better by its more common name: virgin coconut oil.

Virgin oils are generally going to have a richer, nuttier flavor, and they will maintain the full nutritional value because they haven’t been subjected to heat that can kill the delicate enzymes.

Unrefined coconut oil has a shelf life of up to two years and a relatively high smoke point (the point at which taste and nutritional value degrade) of 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Refined Coconut Oil

There are several reasons why coconut oil may be refined.

First and foremost, refining removes impurities or chemicals that may have been used during the extraction process.

The second reason for refining coconut oil is that it increases the smoke point so you can cook with it at higher temperatures without it burning and degrading.

Finally, refined oils don’t carry much coconut flavor, if any, so refining makes the coconut oil a more versatile product.

Refining isn’t always bad; there are modern ways to do it using steam or diatomaceous earth (a soft sedimentary rock used as a filtration aid) to cleanse and purify the oil.

Do your research before purchasing a refined coconut oil, so you know what you’re getting!

Other Processes that Affect Nutritional Values

If you’re using virgin or unrefined coconut oil, none of the following terms will be an issue, but if you want to use a refined oil for, say, frying foods without imparting a coconut flavor, then you need to be aware of the following processes in order to make an informed choice.

Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized (RBD)

Although this sounds like something that you’d do to your gym shoes after a long run, it’s actually a common practice with fats and oils. Many oils go rancid quickly or are extracted with chemicals that can be harmful.

Also, if the oil has gone rancid, a deodorizing process will be used to mask the smell. As you can probably guess, this process isn’t exactly good for you or the oil.

Hydrogenated Coconut Oil

In an attempt to increase the melting point, refined, saturated fats such as the ones found in coconut oil are combined with hydrogen particles to make them more saturated and thus more shelf stable.

Hydrogenated coconut oil is used when you need a more solid product, such as when making cake icing. This process threw coconut oil under the bus with the rest of the unhealthy fats back in the 1960s because hydrogenation causes the formation of trans fats, the bad boys that cause heart disease and other potentially deadly disorders.

Avoid hydrogenated fats, if you can.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Sometimes the medium-chain triglycerides are separated out of coconut oil for specific purposes.

Generally, fractionation is done for medical, cosmetic, dietary, or industrial needs. The triglycerides can be used as a nutrient in specific situations, so most likely you’re not going to encounter this at the grocery store unless you’re at a specialty athletic store.

Excerpted with Permission, Rockridge Press

Do you use coconut oil? If not, what oils do you prefer? Tell me in the comments section!

 

November 5, 2012

beauty diy | 3 easy ways to defeat dry winter skin

While it may not officially be winter, the constant changes in weather are wreaking havoc on my skin.

To keep my skin free of dry patches, scales and flakies, I’m making exfoliation and oil application top priorities pre- and post-shower. Here’s the three things I do to defeat dry winter skin.

how to defeat dry winter skin

1. Dry Body Brushing

You may already use a loofah in the shower, but did you know that brushing your dry body is extremely beneficial?

In Ayurvedic medicine (an ancient Indian system of natural healing), dry body brushing is recommended for improving blood circulation and releasing toxins from the skin. In addition to these internal benefits, dry brushing obviously helps your skin slough off the dead layers that are clogging your pores and keeping your skin from looking supple and moist.

I’ve been using the Earth Therapeutics Purest Palm Body Brush, which the company sent for me to review, for the past month. The Japanese palm fibers are thick and dense, and while it took me a bit to ease into dry brushing (it is a little bit too much at first!), I have come to appreciate this pre-bath ritual.

Here’s how to dry brush your body:

1. Before you get into the shower, relax and take the brush in long, sweeping strokes, up the fronts and backs of your legs. (I like to concentrate on the backs of my thighs to help loosen up any toxins and fat that may want to bust out as cellulite!)

2. Apply light pressure on body parts with thin skin or where you just may be a little more sensitive. For me, this is my chest, armpits and stomach.

3. Apply more pressure on body parts with thicker skin (bottoms of feet!) or where you think you need to loosen up more toxins (booty!).

If this is a bit intense for you, you can also do this in the shower with a wet brush and body. However, I’d highly recommend trying the dry brushing method pre-shower to really break out blockages and stimulate your lymphatic system. Once you get in the shower, it’s all about the massage!

2. Abhyanga Massage

After you’re finished with your dry brushing, hop in the shower — but don’t douse yourself in water just yet.

Instead, break out your sesame oil (or olive oil or whatever you fancy) and place the bottle underneath the warm, running water to heat it up a bit. Now, it’s time to bathe yourself (pre-bath) in a warm oil massage.

Abhyanga massage, also a tradition of Ayurveda, keeps the skin-stimulating benefits of dry body brushing going, except now you have a luxurious layer of oil upon your body to calm your system and moisturize both your joints and your skin.

The abhyanga massage routine is similar to that of the dry brushing routine — simply rub the oil all over your body, in circular strokes with firm pressure, to help eliminate waste from the body and deliver moisture to the skin.

After you’ve oiled yourself up, relax. Take 5-10 minutes and allow the oil to sink in before turning on your shower and getting on with your bathing routine.

3. Exfoliating Scrub

So now that we’ve dry-brushed and oiled-up, the last thing you can do in the shower to help defeat dry winter skin is apply a homemade, natural exfoliating scrub to give your skin a final shot of oil while taking off any remaining dead skin cells.

If you opt to use the exfoliating scrub in the shower after dry brushing and the abhyanga massage, you can most likely skip the post-shower shot of oil that I usually recommend. Your body should be mega-moisturized and ready to brave the elements after all this!

How do you keep your skin supple during the colder months? Do you opt for oils, lotions, creams or what? Tell me your tips in the comments section!

October 29, 2012

beauty diy | 3 natural beauty recipes for hair, face and body

On Monday morning I had the privilege of going on to one of my favorite metro morning shows, Better Kansas City, to talk DIY natural beauty recipes with co-host Lisa Holbrook.

(The last time I was on air for the show, I talked summer-to-fall transition fashion with Kelly Jones!)

Watch Lisa Holbrook and me on KCTV5′s “Better Kansas City”

Here’s the scoop on these three DIY beauty treatments:

1. Nourishing Hair Oil Treatment

kimberlyloc better kansas city nourishing hair oil treatment

Ingredients

1 part avocado oil
1 part coconut oil
5-10 drops lavender or rosemary essential oil

Instructions

If it’s colder than 76 degrees in your home, you may notice that your coconut oil is now a pure white solid. All you have to do is heat up container of coconut oil by setting it in a saucepan of water on the stove, set to low. The coconut oil will get back to its liquid state, and the warmth of the oil will feel lovely on your hair!

Simply mix equal parts coconut oil and avocado oil in a small container (use what you need for one application, or make more to last a week — just be sure to store it in a cool, dry place). Then, drop 5-10 splashes of essential oil into your creation. Go easy on the essential oil! You can always add more if like.

I use this treatment on my hair’s ends up through the mid-shaft area to help temporarily seal split ends and keep my locks soft and strong.

Why I Use These Ingredients

A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science showed that coconut oil is able to bind itself to weak spots in the hair and help reduce protein loss. This provides temporary strength and helps the hair look thicker and shinier.

I use Tropical Traditions’ Certified-Organic Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, the creme de la creme of coconut oils, which the company gifted to me for sampling and review. (My review: I love it. Longer review later.:))

Avocado oil is a new love of mine. It’s amazing at moisturizing dry, damaged hair thanks to its high vitamin count — vitamins A, B, D and E.

I choose rosemary oil for an invigorating scalp treatment. It’s been shown to help with hair regeneration, and it has wonderful aromatherapy benefits — especially if you apply this treatment in the morning pre-shower.

On the converse, you can also use lavender oil for a calming effect during an overnight hair oil treatment. Lavender essential oil, which is naturally anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, has a balancing effect on the scalp. Here’s to hoping flakies, blemishes and overly oily glands calm down!

2. Hydrating Facial Serum

kimberlyloc better kansas city hydrating facial serum

Ingredients

2/3 jojoba oil*
1/3 tamanu oil**
5-10 drops jasmine essential oil***

*(You can also substitute argan oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil or avocado oil for the jojoba oil— experiment and see what you like!)

**(You can also substitute rose hip seed oil — it’s great for all skin types — for the tamanu oil. Again, experiment!)

***(Rose, lavender, rosemary and lemongrass are also great choices; rose is perfect for dry skin while the other three a good for acne-prone skin)

Instructions

Fill a dropper bottle 2/3 full of your “base” oil, aka jojoba oil or one of the other recommended oils. Then, fill the remaining 1/3 with your second oil of choice — this is your hardworking oil that is treating your specific skin type. For me, it’s tamanu oil for acne.

I’d recommend playing with these ratios a bit. You may find that your skin reacts better with a little more “treatment” oil and a little less carrier/base oil. Leave enough room on top to drop 5-10 splashes of your favorite essential oil. I love jasmine for its luxurious, romantic scent.

Why I Use These Ingredients

Jojoba oil is a great base or “carrier” oil because it’s lightweight, odorless and easily absorbed by the skin. It’s very similar to our skin’s natural oil, sebum, so using jojoba oil on your face helps “trick” your skin into thinking it has produced enough oil — this can help keep your face clear of breakouts as well as clear of dry patches.

In my humble opinion, tamanu oil is going to be one of the next big “it” oils. It hails from Southeast Asia (like my mom! :)) and has a distinct, nutty smell. Tamanu oil is known for its antiseptic, antifungal properties, so this is another good oil for acne-prone or hormonally imbalanced skin.

3. Exfoliating Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub

kimberlyloc better kansas city exfoliating pumpking pie spice sugar scrub

Ingredients

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sweet almond oil
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice OR equal parts ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon

Instructions

Mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a mixing bowl. Be sure to get out all the clumps (you may need to use your hands in addition to a wooden spoon) before adding in the sweet almond oil. After adding the oil, mix the concoction a bit more before transferring it to a glass jar and sealing it with a tight lid.

Why I Use These Ingredients

It’s so simple — literally just sugar and oil, so you probably have 2/3 of this recipe on hand already. Brown and granulated sugar naturally exfoliate your skin while sweet almond oil (or any carrier oil you want — just choose one that doesn’t have a strong odor so the sugar smell can come through) soften skin.

Add pumpkin pie spice for a yummy scent, or use your favorite essential oils for aromatherapy benefits.

What are your favorite DIY beauty recipes? What essential oils and carrier oils do you adore? Tell me your best natural beauty tips in the comments section!

July 13, 2012

beauty diy | facial oil tips

No matter what facial oil you choose (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil or Grapeseed Oil are a few of my faves), remember these basic tips for putting your best face forward with facial oils.

shirodhara facial oil

{Photo By Therme Loipersdorf/Courtesy Flickr}

1. Treat your skin, not your sheets.

My general rule of thumb is to get ready for bed at least an hour before I hit the sack. That means after a wash, tone and treat, I have at least 45 minutes for product — oil or otherwise — to absorb into my skin…not my sheets or pillow.

2. Use as little as possible.

You can always add more. Start small, and spread the oil around in gentle, circular motions. If you find that your cheeks aren’t as lubed-up as you like, add a touch more. You don’t want to waste, and you definitely don’t want to be so slick that the oil just sits on your face all night.

3. Keep it cool.

Store your facial oils in a cool, dry and dark area. Underneath the bathroom sink is a typical place to keep your oils, but if you’re used to heating up your bathroom sink like a sauna with long, hot showers, reconsider where you store your precious oils.

July 13, 2012

beauty diy | affordable oils for hair, face and body | extra virgin olive oil

Dress your skin with a light layer of extra virgin olive oil at bedtime to deliver maximum hydration and important nutrients to your skin as it repairs itself overnight.

Olive oil is rich in vitamins K and E. Vitamin K helps reduce dark circles and bruises, according to 2002 research published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. Vitamin E offers protection against photoaging from time spent out in the sun.

Because olive oil has a thicker consistency than most facial oils, it only takes a small amount — think a dime-sized dollop — to moisturize and heal the face.

At less than $2 per fluid ounce, you can probably afford to add a little oil to your face on nights when you feel like your skin needs some special attention.

Olive oil is also the perfect starter oil for the oil cleansing method, so consider scooping up an extra bottle of EVOO to store on your bathroom vanity.

organic olive oil

{If you can, choose certified organic olive oil to give your skin the cleanest, purest shot of moisture and nutrients. Photo Courtesy Drugstore.com}

Want to find out about other amazing oils for your hair, face and body? Check out the links below:

Virgin Coconut Oil

Grapeseed Oil

Once you stock your vanity with these affordable oils for hair, skin and body, don’t forget to take a look through these facial oil tips.



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